Why is it that most Caribbean families teach their women at a young age how to cook and value their women knowing their way around the kitchen?
The role of women in Caribbean societies largely mirrored that of the colonial rulers who occupied the islands and of the tribal structures and customs that were transported across the Atlantic during the slave trade. That role subordinated women to men, and placed certain responsibilities on them, including preparation of meals. This basic expectation of the woman’s place in the home was nearly universal until the gradual evolution of the women’s rights movement began to break down those old structures. The experiences of women in the Caribbean were little different than those anywhere else: they were expected to take care of the children and the home.
As expected, the role of Caribbean women remained subservient to men far longer than is or was the case in modern industrialized societies, where educational opportunities for females provided the intellectual foundation for the modern feminist movement. In a 1975 article, two researchers who studied the role of women in Caribbean societies and had expected to discover a more complex relationship between the genders instead concluded the following:
“We came to this project somewhat objectively since our aim was to have a dispassionate look at Caribbean women to see the extent of the multitudinous roles they play in society. Gradually, however, our readings convinced us that Caribbean women, by and large, play a subservient role to men particularly in economic and social areas; that a double standard of sexuality exists; and that women frequently are forced to hide their potential talents and abilities.” [Frances Henry and Pamela Wilson, “The Status of Women in Caribbean Societies: An Overview of their Social, Economic and Sexual Roles,” Journal of Social and Economic Studies, June 1975]
Most Caribbean families teach female children to cook, and expect them to be proficient in the kitchen, because the history of Caribbean cultures sublimated the social and emotional development of women to that men. Women were expected to prepare meals, and needed to know how to do so, which required their indoctrination into the science of meal preparation at an early stage. That such a large percentage of Caribbean communities exist in a state of abject poverty further serves to ensure that women in that region are prevented from reaching their full potential in the academic and professional worlds.
In Caribbean traditions it was a woman's job to just stay home and maintain their family in order. The man was the one who actually went out and made the money by working. It is a valuable resource to be able to cook and clean. Being Caribbean i know that my mother always emphasized the importance of being able to take care of the house. It comes in handy because when you're ready to settle down and start your own family you'll be ready.